Making the transition from do-ing to be-ing...
Posted on 8th April 2020 at 08:22
As clients and regular readers of this blog will know by now, we find the human condition endlessly fascinating. And not, as we always hasten to add, in an “OMG” way. Or any other unkind or judgemental way (!).
Rather, what interests us is the myriad of different ways in which people can view the same event. And then react to it. Not surprisingly, the events of recent weeks have provided a very good example of this. And continue to do so…
Interestingly, many of the responses – particularly in the early days – were those we more often see in connection with grief. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. The classic stages which many people go through, although often not in that particular order or at the time. It’s a topic we’ve covered before and our post can be found here.
While on first sight this may sound a little strange, when you stop and think about it, this is completely understandable. After all, whether your life is continuing largely as normal – whatever that may be (!) – or you find yourself at home on furlough, everyone’s life has been affected in some way. In the smallest of ways or in a more radical one…
Seen in this way, it’s not surprising that many people are grieving on some level for the normality of their old life, regardless of how happy – or not – it was. Whether it was the life they dreamed of or less so.
While we may not like to admit it, humans are creatures of routine and habit. We like to know what to expect and when to expect it. In other words, to feel safe and secure.
Added to this – and the rabbit hole we’ve been exploring since the beginning of the year – are our own individual set of beliefs. These determine how we interpret whatever happens in our lives and so how we then react to it. If you need a reminder, just look back at the series of posts we’ve made in the last three months, you’ll find them there.
However, this isn’t what we wanted to talk about today. Instead, we wanted to look at something we often notice with clients when they retire, but equally applies to what’s happening at the moment. And you may have already noticed it with those around you. Or perhaps from your own personal experience. It’s the transition from do-ing to be-ing.
What do we mean by this?
Well, if you stop and think about it, from our earliest days our focus has been on the external world. Everything is seen – and driven – by what is happening in the world around us. By external factors.
As babies and small children, not surprisingly, our parents and others involved in our care took responsibility for us and how we lived our lives. While this hold gradually relaxed as we got older – or sometimes not (!) – we still had very little control over much of our lives. And this continued through full time education and on into College. It’s little wonder so many teenagers rebel!
Then we entered the world of work and, again, external factors continued to control much of what happened in our lives. Through relationships, families, children. Taking us into middle age and beyond.
Perhaps those exerting control over our lives changed but we were still largely driven by external factors. So, again, it’s not surprising that so many people rebel in their forties, with the infamous mid life crisis. Ironically, it’s often those who didn’t rebel as teenagers…..
We’ve spent our whole lives being “busy, busy, busy” leaving little time to pause and think about what we’re actually doing. And, dare we mention it, whether we really want to be doing it at all. Let alone with the people we’re closely involved with (!).
And so, the hamster wheel continues until retirement. Or, in the current circumstances, now. Unlike retirement, which comes gradually closer, this enforced mini retirement – or sabbatical if you prefer (!) – has come suddenly. Out of the blue. With no warning or preparation. It’s little wonder that so many people are finding the transition so difficult or painful.
Suddenly, the framework of our lives has been swept away. No longer having the routine we know so well – whether we liked it or not – or carried along by the sheer impetus of life. We’ve been left stranded and alone. So, as we’ve already said, in many ways it is a grief. For the life we knew and, deep down, know will never quite be the same again…
However, there is also something much deeper going on. Really, it’s the first time since we were children – and then only for the briefest of times in school holidays – that we’ve been left to amuse ourselves. To look inside and decide what we would ACTUALLY like to do with our lives today. This week. This month.
Yes, we know there are some things we can’t do at the moment, for various reasons, but we still have a huge choice of things we CAN do at home. More often than not, they’re the simple things we’ve fantasised about doing for years – or decades(!) – but never had the time or energy to do. Really appreciating not being woken by the alarm clock. A cup of our favourite beverage. Time to sit in the sunshine and relax. Reading the book we’ve always meant to read but never got round to. A soak in the bath. Catching up with those friends or family we never seem to have time to call. The list goes on and on.
Not surprisingly, for many people, who haven’t had the time or opportunity to stop and think about the simplest thing for years, this can be a very scary prospect. It’s little wonder that so many people get stuck in do-ing mode, finding ANYTHING to fill up their time. Whether they actually enjoy doing it. And, if this doesn’t apply to you, we’re sure you’ve come across plenty of examples of this recently!
Even more scary, for many people, it brings up many things they’ve been trying not to think about for years. They suddenly have the time to start looking at how they’ve been living their lives. What they’ve been investing their time and energy in.
Perhaps it’s their job, relationship, family or friends. Or, maybe, it’s the things they’ve done – or been forced to do – that they wouldn’t have consciously chosen to do.
Perhaps it’s their priorities. Their job over family, money over happiness, other people before themselves. There’s a huge pandora’s box just waiting to be opened….
From the conversations we’ve had over recent weeks, these issues are coming up with many people at the moment. So, if this applies to you too, the good news is that you’re not alone. You’re not losing your marbles (!).
Seriously though, what’s the answer?
Well, the most important thing is to let yourself drift from do-ing into be-ing mode. This isn’t a time for frantic do-ing of anything, just to keep busy and shut down the Little Monster in your head. Nor is it time to go to the other extreme and overanalyse everything that’s coming up. That’s unless you want to get completely bogged down in ever increasing detail and minutae.
Instead, just give yourself time – and somewhere quiet – to simply enjoy be-ing alive and healthy today. After all, without those, what do you have?
Then let whatever comes up, come up. Let all those thoughts, whatever they are, see the light of day. Imagine that you’re sitting watching a play or film. Interested, but not overwhelmed, with whatever’s on the screen.
A very easy way to make this process easier is not to focus on the thoughts themselves, but on the feelings that come up with these thoughts. You don’t need to name them, just notice whether they feel “good” or “bad.” Let the good ones stay and let all the rest go. Release them to the Universe, Source, God or whatever higher power you prefer. And, in the process, if you need a bit of a rant and rave – or a good cry – to help them on their way, that’s fine. We promise that you’ll feel a lot better afterwards. Trust us.
Then when you’ve let all the rubbish go, put your focus on the bigger picture. If money was no object, what you would really like to spend your time on? The things you would really like to do. The people you would like to be with. What your ideal life would look like. What it would feel like.
And, as always, don’t get side tracked by the Little Monster in your head who’ll give you 101 good reasons why you can’t do any of this. Just focus on the end result you’d like, not the how. Particularly, how it could ever happen. Dream about what your perfect life would look like and, most importantly, feel like. Really enjoy letting your imagination run riot and, even better, in a positive way!
So now you know the direction you’d like to go in, move your focus back to the here and now. The little things you can do each day that you enjoy and put a smile on your face. Regardless of what anyone may think or the end result. Noticing how good it feels to be be-ing rather than do-ing. Listening to your inner guidance, what is right for you at this moment in time. Perhaps, rediscover some of the things you never thought you’d have the time to do again, or you’d always meant to do, but never quite managed to.
This process of rediscovering yourself is a gradual process. Think of the pictures you drew as a child or the things you made with your hands. How you enjoyed playing with whatever it was. Gradually improving whatever it was until it was right for you. Well, it’s time to do this again. To reconnect to your inner desires and what feels good or “right” for you. And you’ll come out of this a lot better than you went in, we promise. Trust us. We’ve all been given a great gift, please don’t waste it.
As always, the choice is yours.
Picture from unknown artist
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